Plans are underway to ensure that Washingtonians have infertility insurance.

Infertility is broadly defined as the inability to conceive after a year or more of unprotected sex. In general, a woman's fertility begins to decline at age 30; by 35 the decline will have accelerated rapidly.

Estimates vary, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one in five married women of "childbearing age" are unable to conceive.

Infertility is less common in men, but only marginally. About 15% of men are afflicted by low sperm count and other forms of male infertility.

State Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) is endeavoring to change how fertility and infertility are perceived by health insurers in Washington. As it stands, some U.S. states - most of them clustered on the Eastern Seaboard - already cover in vitro fertilization and fertility preservation. Rep. Stonier wants the same for aspiring parents in Washington.

Her bill, HB 1151, would have "mandated coverage for fertility services." The bill failed to gain sufficient traction in the last legislative session, but Stonier says she intends to introduce a new bill with the same central conceit. (HB 1151's companion bill in the upper chamber, SB 5204, was introduced by State Sen. Noel Frame, a Democrat from Seattle.)

According to the Washington State Labor Council, "Because treatment is expensive and often not covered by insurance, fertility services are simply out of reach for many families."

"Access to fertility services should not be reserved for those who are wealthier or who happen to work for the 'right' employer that offers fertility benefits."

Washington's fertility rate is relatively low, lower than the national average. Its neighbor to the south - Oregon - is even less fertile.

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